The game of roulette consists of a table and the roulette wheel. While these vary slightly depending on the type of roulette you are playing, the premise is simple. The goal is to guess correctly where exactly on the rolling wheel the ball will fall. The table layout is a representation of the roulette wheel with all its numbers (from 0 to 36 and an extra 00 in American roulette). The numbered sections on the wheel, called pockets, are coloured – 0 is green, in the ranges from 1 to 10 and from 19 to 28 odd numbers are red, while even numbers are black. It is the opposite for the ranges from 11 to 18 and from 29 to 36. That being said, there are many types of bets which you should learn, and different versions of the games which sometimes have unique rules.
As a player, you can choose to place bets on any of the numbers or colours on the roulette wheel, or whether the number will be odd or even (see below for the different types of bets you can place). You can also place special bets and bets on various groups of numbers. A croupier will then spin the wheel in one direction, and spin the white ball around the wheel in the opposite direction. Eventually, the ball will fall into a number pocket (of a certain colour) which will determine whether you have won or lost your bet.
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Types of Bets
Placing bets on roulette is rather straightforward and most casual casino players will be familiar with the basic bet types – red or black, even or odd, etc. Chips are placed on the grid of the table which set in numerical order, with three numbers in line and outside sections for the so-called outside bets. The table layout is similar across most types of roulette games with the exception of the American-style roulette where it has an additional field – for the double zero. There are two basic types of bet in roulette – inside and outside bets.
Inside bets are placed when punters place their chips directly onto the numbered grid of the roulette table. The payouts are much more generous than what is offered for winning outside bets. The reason for this is the difference in the probability of the ball falling on a particular number or on a group of numbers.
- Straight Bets – These are wagers placed on the ball landing on single numbers, so chips are placed in the centre of the chosen number square. If the bet wins, the player receives a payout of 35 times the size of the bet. This can be easily expressed with 35-1.
- Split Bet – With this bet, players place a wager on two neighbouring numbers at the same time and they can expect a payout of 17-1. The chips are placed to overlap these two numbers – either horizontally or vertically.
- Street Bet – Also called row bets, these wagers allow players to make a bet on all three numbers in a line or row. The chips are placed on the edge of the row in question and players stand to collect a winning of 11-1.
- Corner – Corner or square bets are wagers on four numbers which are placed next to each other on the table, forming a square. To make a corner bet, a player needs to place a chip in the middle of these four numbers. The payout for a winning corner bet is 8-1.
- Six line – This type of bet is also known as a double street bet and it is a wager on a block of 6 consecutive numbers. The chips for a six line bet are placed between two street bets, on the edge of the numbered grid. In case of a winning bet, punters receive a payout of 5 times the amount they wagered.
Outside bets offer lower payouts as they are more likely to end up winning after the wheel stops moving. The chips are placed on the fields outside of the numbered grid and the wagers are placed on larger groups of numbers.
- Red or Black – This is a classic wager especially popular among less experienced players or those who enjoy the risk of the odds which, in all types of roulette, are less than 50:50. Punters who guess correctly the colour of the lucky number receive an even payout.
- Even or Odd – Roulette players can also make a bet on the ball falling on either an even or odd number. The payout here is also even, which means players are paid a winning equal to their bet. It is important to note that 0 and 00 do not count as even or odd, so if these two numbers come up the bet will be lost.
- Low or High – Winning high/low bets also pay evenly. This outside bet allows punters to place bets on the low numbers from 1 to 18 or on high numbers from 19 to 36.
- Column Bet – In column bets the numbers are, once again, divided into three groups and the payout is 2-1. In order to place a bet on one of the three columns (1, 4, 7, etc. to 34; 2, 5, 8, etc. to 35, or 3, 6, 9, etc. to 36), players need to put their chips on the outside fields in the bottom of the table.
- Dozen Bet – On most roulette tables, the fields representing this type of wager are simply displayed as 1st 12, 2nd 12, and 3rd 12. Players can place a bet on either the first (1-12), second (13-24) or third (25-36) dozen of numbers. Just like the other bets in roulette, the payout here reflects the odds of these numbers coming up and is 2-1.
American, European, and French Roulette
For those who have never played roulette, there is no difference between the different types of roulette wheels. Clearly, this is far from the truth, however, and there are three styles of roulette that can be found in land-based or online casinos – American, European and French roulette. The biggest difference between them lies in the number of sections on the wheel. While the European and French roulettes have 37 pockets with numbers from 1 to 36 and a 0, their American counterpart has an additional pocket, the double zero.
Due to this difference, the odds and the house edge differ between the two types of wheels. In addition, there is also a distinction between European and French types of roulette.
When choosing a roulette game to play, many less experienced players head to the American roulette table. It is incredibly popular, especially across Las Vegas casinos, where French-style roulette games, in particular, are rarely available. Along with the 36 red and black numbers, the American roulette has two green pockets – 0 and 00, whereas the other games come with a single zero. Although this difference is tiny, at least at first sight, the house edge in the American roulette is almost double that in the European roulette, or 5.26%. For this reason, American roulette offers the lowest odds for you and is only recommended for experienced punters.
Furthermore, the order of the numbers on the wheel is completely different. The exact way numbers are positioned on the wheel does not have a huge effect on the gameplay and it is even less significant when it comes to the house edge of the game. Still, the American type is considered to be less balanced.
The aforementioned single zero wheel is the most notable characteristic of the European roulette. This style of the classic casino game is widespread and loved by thousands of roulette fanatics around the world. The sequence of numbers here is completely different than the one in the American roulette.
There are almost no adjacent low and high numbers on the wheel. Even and odd numbers also alternate as much as possible. More importantly, the house edge is significantly decreased at only 2.70%, which makes this type of roulette incredibly popular among both novices and expert-level players.
The French roulette is very similar to the European one. They both only use a single zero and have the same house advantage of 2.70%. But it is easily recognizable by most people as it uses the French language and has a slightly different layout. The French roulette can rarely be found outside Monte Carlo, but punters who wish to try it can enjoy it in a virtual form in hundreds of online casinos.
The way of playing American, European and French types of roulette may seem almost identical, but seasoned players know that each game comes with its slightly different rules. There are also some special bets, available in the French and European roulettes.
Depending on what type of roulette game you are playing (American, European, or French) and where, you may come across various specific rules. They are optional and found mostly in European or French-style roulette games where players have the opportunity to cut the house edge to percentages similar to the ones found in baccarat or even blackjack. This reduced house advantage applies to only certain types of bets, as it will be explained further below.
Generally used on French roulettes, the La Partage rule is preferred by punters as it can cut the house edge on even money bets down to 1.35%. The term is French and can be translated as “sharing” or “dividing”. It stipulates that the player loses only half of any even-odds stakes if the ball lands on the zero. This rule applies to the farthest outside bets such as red/black, even/odd, and high/low.
In some casinos where European/French roulette is offered, players may take advantage of another optional rule. It is called En Prison or “in prison” in French and is a variation of the La Partage. Similar to it, if you place an even-odds bet (red/black, high/low, even/odd) and a zero comes up, you are given two options. You can reclaim half your bet and lose the other half as in the La Partage. Alternatively, you can choose to leave it for the next turn and if it wins on the next spin, you reclaim the initial bet. However, you lose the entire bet if you are unsuccessful.
Of course, there is a third option – that the zero comes up a second time. Should that happen, the bet may be counted as winning, losing, or falling under En Prison or La Partage once again, depending on the casino where you play at or the specific game if you play online. As expected, the house edge here is also reduced in half to around 1.35% on even-odds bets. In case of the ball landing on the zero pocket when you have placed an inside bet (straight, split bet, etc.), the La Partage and En Prison rule no longer apply and you lose the bet.
Some roulette games, typically European and French ones offer the so-called “announced bets” and “called bets”. In land-based casinos, the bets are announced by the player, but no chips are placed on the table to cover the cost of the stakes. While in the UK, for instance, such called bets are considered gambling on credit and are forbidden, they are available as special bets in many virtual roulette games. If we want to be precise, we should also mention the other type of bets, the announced bets. They are quite similar to the called bets, but the player places the chips on the table before the wheel stops spinning.
When a roulette game features any of these types of bets, it also includes a second table layout, known as racetrack due to its stadium-like shape. It doesn’t change the rules of roulette at all, it simply adds a simpler way for players to make special bets, announced or called. While racetracks can vary, there are typically several types of bets you can make – Voisins du Zéro, Jeu Zéro, Tiers du Cylindre, Les Orphelins, and Neighbour bets. They are sometimes referred to as French bets because of their French names, but they are available in casinos all around the world.
The special bets allow players to bet on different groups or series of numbers, based on the way they are positioned on the roulette wheel. Each bet covers a section on the wheel and it may not be available at the casino you play at. Other times, variations of the classic special bets are offered.
Voisins du Zéro
Voisins du Zero translates as “neighbours of zero” and includes the 17 numbers that are positioned on both sides of the zero on the wheel, including the zero. In most cases, these are the numbers from 22 black through 25 red. When this bet is announced, 9 chips are placed on the racetrack – two chips are placed on the series 0/2/3, another two are wagered on the corner 25/26/28/29, and a single chip is placed on each of the splits 4/7, 12/15, 18/21, 19/22, and 32/35.
Tiers du Cylindre
This bet covers a large section of the roulette wheel on the opposite side of the zero. Translating as “third of the wheel”, Tiers du Cylindre allows punters to bet on the 12 numbers from 33 to 27, including 33 and 27 themselves. This is roughly one-third of the wheel and includes six splits – 5/8, 10/11, 13/16, 23/24, 27/30 and 33/36. A total of 6 chips are placed, one chip per split.
Another popular special bet that is offered on European and French roulette games is Jeu Zéro, which means “zero game” in English. The bet is, in fact, of German origin and is also known as “zero spiel” in some casinos. It includes the 7 numbers that are the closest to the zero and requires 4 chips to be placed – one chip on each of the splits 0/3, 12/15, 32/35 and another chip on 26. In some Eastern European casinos, this bet is also known as “zero spiel naca” and it places an additional chip on 19.
This is a classic special bet and translating simply as “orphans”, it refers to the two sections on the wheel which are not covered by the Voisins du Zéro and the Tiers du Cylindre bets. Players who choose Les Orphelins need to place 5 chips on a total of 8 numbers – 1 chip on the splits 6/9, 14/17, 17/20, 31/34, and another straight bet on 1.
This is a popular bet which gives punters plenty of freedom – they can choose on how many numbers they wish to bet. By placing a chip on one of the numbers on the racetrack, the two numbers on each side of that number will also be included in the bet. Of course, this applies to the sequence of numbers on the wheel.
While this is the most classic variation of a neighbour bet, there are many others and you can choose to include from 1 to 8 numbers on each side of the number pocket you have chosen.